How to Keep Yourself Fit While Remaining Techie

2
2013

Couch potatoFor many folks, staying fit and healthy while working in the computer  and information technology fields can be quite challenging. The job often is a fertile environment for sedentariness. With several exceptions, computer and IT professionals often find themselves physically inactive.

That doesn’t have to be the case for you. In this article, you can learn more about sedentariness, what you can do to avoid it, and how to reap benefits from physical exercise.

The Fatal Plague of Sedentariness

Sedentariness is characterized by very little, or complete absence of, physical activity or exercise. Numerous studies have linked it to several preventable causes of death such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, colon cancer, hypertension, lipid disorders, obesity, osteoporosis, kidney stones, anxiety, and depression.

Lack of or inadequate physical exercise can cause muscles to atrophy (to shrink and weaken), which can make the body more prone to physical injury. Physical exercise also improves physical fitness, and the two are strongly associated with the strengthening of the body’s defense systems. Conversely, a sedentary lifestyle causes the body’s immune system to falter and weaken.

Many people today have acquired sedentariness both as a habit and as a lifestyle. According to the United States National Center for Health Statistics, only 34.9% of adult Americans engage in regular leisure-time physical activity.

The rest of the population is either physically inactive or engages irregularly in physical activity. Some people allow sedentariness to seep into their lives, perhaps as a job-related hazard.

Yet, with a little change in your habits, you can prevent many lifestyle-related diseases. You can even extend your lifespan further.

Bringing Back Physical Activity into Your Life

It is not difficult to avoid being swallowed by the black hole of sedentariness. The trick lies in aerobic or physical activity, which is truly easy to bring back or incorporate into your daily schedule.

Guy running stay healthy technologyAccording to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the minimum recommendation for most healthy adults is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise weekly, or half that time if you perform vigorous aerobic activities weekly.

That is the least amount of time you need to keep yourself fit and healthy.

Take note that this amount of exercise time needs to be spread out over the days of the week and should not be done only one time during the week.

Any aerobic activity will do, but a better idea would be to perform both moderate and vigorous physical activities. You don’t need to enroll in an aerobics class for this.

Any activity that brings up your heart rate without focusing your physical exertion on any specific muscle group can be considered aerobic.

Here are some examples of moderate and vigorous aerobic activities that you can easily throw into your daily schedule:

  • Brisk walking to and from the office (or around the block on weekends)
  • Bicycling around town (or on a stationary bike)
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Hand-washing your laundry (saves on electricity, too)
  • Climbing the stairs instead of using the elevator or escalator
  • Running or jogging (either outdoors or on a treadmill; you can also jog to and from work)
  • Dancing (in general, dancing is aerobic).

Monitoring Your Heart Rate to Track Your Progress

Since aerobic exercises target not your muscles but your lungs and circulatory system, especially your heart, you might also want to monitor your heart rate.

Why is heart rate monitoring important? The most important benefit of keeping track of your heart rate is that of knowing whether your physical activity or your effort is strong enough for you to reap any health benefit. Don’t rely on sweat as an indicator of your exercise.

Just because you sweat profusely doesn’t mean you are hitting your exercise targets.

You can determine your maximum heart rate by using a formula developed in 2007 by researchers in Oakland University.

First, you need two values based on your age. Let’s call these two values A and B. For A, multiply your age by 1.16, and for B, multiply the square of your age by 0.018. Subtract B from A, then add 163 to the difference.

Max hr formula oakland university 2007

The resulting number is your maximum heart rate.

Take note that a formula-based calculation of your maximum heart rate will not be as accurate as a laboratory-determined reading. There are several of such formulas, but none of them reaches the precision and accuracy of a cardiac stress test conducted in a laboratory setting (or equivalent facility) and supervised by trained personnel.

Although, for general purposes, using an age-based formula for computing your maximum heart rate will suffice.

Sweating Out at the Right Intensity

As you perform your aerobic exercises, you will need to accelerate your heart rate to certain percentages of your maximum heart rate in order to reap health benefits. Percentage ranges define the various intensity zones and the potential effect of exercising at each intensity zone.

Cycling groupFor instance, the intensity zone where you start to burn fat is between 60% and 70% of your maximum heart rate. Thus, if your maximum heart rate is 182, and you keep your heart rate between 109 bpm (beats per minute) and 127 bpm—which are 60% and 70% of 182, respectively—as you exercise for at least 30 minutes, you will definitely be burning fat.

The intensity range for aerobic or endurance training (also known as cardio training) is between 70% and 80% of the maximum heart rate, at which range you will not only burn more fat and calories but also really work your heart and lungs, thus increasing your stamina and endurance.

A Techie Way to Monitor Your Heart Rate

For some people, the pulse method of monitoring the heart rate during exercise is sufficient. Though, the pulse method can be inconvenient, as you will need to pause whatever you are doing in order to take your pulse and count your heart beats.

Other people prefer a more convenient way by using heart rate monitor watches. Some are okay with a watch that includes a pulse monitoring feature. This, however, is not an accurate way to monitor your heart rate.

A more reliable device for monitoring your heart rate is a heart rate monitor watch that uses a chest strap. The electrodes on the chest strap detect electrical impulses from the heart and the transmitter on the strap relays the data to the watch for processing. Such a device is practically similar to an ECG or EKG machine.

Working in a tech job doesn’t have to mean being sedentary. By sparing a few minutes of your time each day and devoting it to physical exercise at the right intensity, you can easily combat a host of deadly but preventable diseases. Start saying no to sedentariness today.

Elmer M. writes rants, reviews, and informative articles sometimes. Most of the time, he just lives. And, yeah, his site, Perfect Gift Tips, is his pet. Go there. Read. Find. Search. Receive. Give. Whatever, do it thoughtfully.

Image credits: “Potato Head – Couch Potato” by Ian Burt; “Fort Collins Velodrome Association bicycle races @ CSU Oval” by MelvinSchlubman; “Jogger.Rain.DCS.WDC.12jul06” by Elvert Barnes.